World music artist Anouar Kaddour Cherif released his debut album Djawla Friday through World Music Network and Riverboat Records. The nine-song record is an interesting start for the artist, who currently calls Switzerland his home following his exile from his former home nation of Algeria some years ago. The 43-minute, mostly instrumental presentation proves itself worth hearing thanks to its diverse musical arrangements. They are diverse not only in their sounds and styles, but also in their combination of cultural influences, which end up directly influencing their sounds and styles. One of the most notable of the record’s songs comes early in its run in the form of ‘Savage Butterly.’ It will be discussed shortly. ‘Sirocco,’ which comes a little later in the album’s run, is another way in which the arrangements’ diversity shines through. It will be discussed a little later. ‘A True Lie,’ one of the record’s later entries, is also of note. It will also be discussed later. When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes the album overall a successful offering from Cherif.
Djawla, the debut album from international artist Anouar Kaddour Cherif, makes for a positive start to this year’s field of new World Music albums. Its featured musical arrangements do well to make that clear. ‘Savage Butterfly,’ one of the album’s early entries, is one of the songs that makes that clear. Drummer Hannes Junker’s performance on this song is just one of its highlights. When he enters the arrangement, his performance comes across as quite similar to that of Terry Bozzio. That is evidenced through the tight, staccato nature of his phrasing. Cherif’s own performance on mandole alongside his own performance adds even more to that sense of songs from Bozzio’s Black Light Syndrome record, which also featured performances from Terry Bozzio and Steve Stevens. The progressive nature of the overall performance, and the control that each musician has in his own performance makes this song so unique and just one of the works that makes this record so enjoyable. Listening through the song after reading through the brief liner notes about the song, listeners can actually envision the tiny, gentle butterfly making its annual migratory voyage through everything, showing its wild nature (no pun intended) and determination to reach its goal. It is such an enjoyable presentation, and just one of the album’s most notable works. ‘Cirocco’ is another song that helps show what makes Cherif’s debut album worth hearing.
While ‘Savage Butterfly’ boasts something of a progressive nature in its stylistic approach and sound, ‘Sirocco’ bears its own separate identity. Cherif’s Algerian roots are once again on full display here through his performance on the mnadole. At the same time, the introduction of Clement Meunier on clarinet alongside Junker’s performance on drums, gives the arrangement a clear jazz influence, too. The sense of swing that is displayed through the pair’s performance makes for its own uniquely engaging and entertaining presentation that also continues to show the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes. According to the liner notes featured with Djawla, the arrangement is meant to conjure thoughts of the warm Saharan winds that blow from Africa all the way up to his current home in Switzerland. The varying tempos and energies from each musician’s performance does so well to paint that rich picture. The frenetic energy exhibited in the song’s final minutes paints that picture of the hot, dry winds blowing from the continent while the slower, more relaxed moments lead to thoughts of the winds building. The whole musical story and the picture that it paints is fully immersive. Keeping all of this in mind, it makes clear why this song is yet another important part of Djawla’s whole. It is just one more of the songs that shows how much the album has to offer. ‘A True Lie’ is one more example of how much the album has to offer.
‘A True Lie’ is described in Djawla’s linr notes as being about Cherif’s need to basically find something positive, something that would help him maintain at least some hope. The way in which the song’s mood turns from somewhat edgy to more positive as it progresses does just as well to help make that story clear. That edgy energy is accompanied by much of the music being played in a minor chord. However, as the song progresses that all changes. The arrangement turns somewhat funky for lack of better word, though the performance of bassist Antoine Brochot. His fellow musicians follow suit from that point to the end, presenting the hope that Cherif must have found through his journey. It will leave audiences feeling positive, just as Cherif must have felt. The whole styling and sound here is unlike those of the other examined songs and from the rest of the record’s entries. When each of the songs examined here and those other songs are considered together, the whole makes this record the year’s first great World Music offering and an equally enjoyable debut from Cherif.
Djawla, the debut album from Anouar Kaddour Cherif, is a strong first outing for the international artist. Its success is shown from the record’s opening to its end. That is proven through all three of the songs examined here. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the record, again, the first great World Music offering of 2022 and an equally strong first outing for Cherif.
Djawla is available now through World Music Network and Riverboat Records. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:
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